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Stevens' future under scrutiny

Schalke boss Huub Stevens has come under fire after his team picked up just six points from their last six Bundesliga games.

Ahead of the Champions League game against Montpellier on Tuesday, discussions about Stevens' future have overshadowed Schalke's qualification for the second round of the tournament. In the past month Schalke have been overtaken by Leverkusen and Dortmund in the Bundesliga and could drop even further with an away match against Stuttgart coming up this weekend.

During the past month, Stevens has resumed his trademark "grunt". During his first stint with Schalke, which saw him lift the UEFA Cup in 1997, the Dutch coach had been nicknamed the "Grunter from Kerkrade" by the German media. On his return to Schalke last year, he claimed he had changed and was now more relaxed; under pressure, though, things have changed.

He had recently criticised a small number of the supporters, who had refrained from singing in support of the team in protest at a ban on fan banners inside the Schalke Arena.

"I give compliments to the team but no compliments for a certain section of the fans," he said. "A high number of fans support the team, but a minority does not. I don't get it."

On Saturday, former Germany international Timo Hildebrand replaced Lars Unnerstall in goal. Stevens claimed that he had to make changes due to constant pressure from fans and media.

"When a young 'keeper is whistled by his own fans, I have to tax my brain," Stevens said.

However, Schalke drew 1-1 with Borussia Moenchengladbach and Hildebrand conceded an easy goal

Local paper WAZ ran with the headline "Stevens is Schalke's problem", while other sections of the media have already speculated about his likely successor.

Stevens had declined to discuss Saturday's game at his pre-match press conference for the Montpellier clash and added: "We want to win the group."


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